IN 2007, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia came up with a wheeze to rent out two air beds in their San Francisco apartment, because a conference had left the local hotels full-to-overflowing. Thus, Airbed & Breakfast was born. Since then, the firm’s only contraction has been its name. Today, Airbnb’s website lists over 2m properties for short-term let in 191 countries. Piper Jaffray, an investment bank, estimates that bookings through the firm will reach $14.4bn in 2016, compared with $52m in 2010. Analysts think the upstart might fetch $30bn were it to be taken public. That would make Airbnb worth more than Marriott, the world’s largest hotel chain.
But legislation signed in New York state on October 21st has taken some of the puff out of Airbnb’s mattress. New York City is the firm’s largest market in America, with around 35,000 properties available for rent. But many of the hosts offer their apartments illegally. In 2010, the state passed a law banning rentals of whole units in residential blocks for less than 30 days. (It is legal to do so if the tenant is living there at the same time.) To…Continue reading